An Introduction to Ayurveda

Ayurveda knows of 5 elements which exist in all matter, and thus exist in each individual:
Ether - Air - Fire - Water - Earth
Within the body, these 5 elements combine into 3 groupings known as the Tridosha (the 3 Humors, the 3 Doshas):
 · Vata Dosha (air humor) is manifested from Ether and Air.
 · Pitta Dosha (fire humor) is manifested from Fire and Water.
 · Kapha Dosha (water humor) is manifested from Earth and Water.

The Tridosha govern all aspects of mind, body and consciousness. Vata is responsible for Movement, including movement of the heart, eyes, lungs and other body muscles and tissues. Emotionally, Vata is linked to anxiety, pain and fear. Pitta is responsible for Metabolism and the processes of digestion. The heat-energy of the fire humor is also linked to body temperature, coloring, intelligence, as well as to the emotions of anger, hate and jealousy. Kapha is responsible for Structure, which includes maintainance of body strength and tissues, joint lubrication, and wound healing. The water humor is also linked to memory retention and the emotions of attachment, greed, envy, forgiveness and love.

When Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are out of balance, disease results. Ayurveda can then be defined as: the knowledge and methods used to restore - and maintain - an individual's natural and innate Vata-Pitta-Kapha balance.

The combination, or percentage, of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in an individual is determined at conception and makes up his or her basic Constitution or Prakruti. While everyone is made up of all three Doshas, most individuals have a tendency towards one (or even two) specific Doshas. Thus, Ayurveda identifies 7 basic Constitution types:
1. Vata   2. Pitta   3. Kapha   4. Vata-Pitta   5. Pitta-Kapha   6. Vata-Kapha   7. Vata-Pitta-Kapha

In order for Ayurveda to be a powerful healing tool, many questions and tests are used to first determine a patient's basic Constitution and which of the Doshas (or humors) is more pronounced. Diagnosis also frequently includes a close examination of the patient's urine, fingernails, lips and tongue, eyes, and face.

Once diagnosis is made, Ayurvedic tools for healing include: Diet, Herbs, Lifestyle changes, Oil applications, Massage, Yoga, Meditation, Sound/Mantras, Color/Light Therapies, Purification Therapies and Hygiene, Homeopathy, Gems/Minerals, Fasting, Enemas, Blood-letting, etc.

Conditions which have responded well to treatment with Ayurveda include:
  · Allergies
  · Anxiety
  · Asthma
  · Arthritis
  · Age-related problems
· Childhood problems
· Chronic diseases
· Circulation problems
· Digestive problems
· Endocrine system
· Emotional problems
· Headaches
· Immune system
· Intestinal problems
· Nervous system
· Pain
· Pregnancy problems
· Premature aging
· Stomach problems
· Withdrawal symptoms

Recommended Reading:
  · The Ayurveda Encylopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity by Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha. 2nd ed. 1998. Bayville, NY, USA: Ayurveda Holistic Center Press.
  · Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad. 2nd ed. 1985. Santa Fe, NM, USA: Lotus Press.
  · Materia Medica of Ayurveda by Vaidya Bhagwan Dash, D.A.M.S., H.P.A., M.A., PhD. 1994. New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

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